Look, Cover, Say, Write, Check Spelling Strategy

Look, say, cover, write, check

Look, Cover, Say, Write, Check has had a bad rap over the past few years, but it is mainly due to the implementation of the strategy, rather than the strategy itself.

Over time, the strategy has been reduced to its simplest form: the idea that students learn words by memorizing. Well, we know that children just don’t learn how to read that way!

Students learn to read through a combination of metalinguistics (what a sound, letter, word, and sentence actually are); and phonemic awareness (the ability to discriminate initial, medial, and final sounds in words; and then the ability to segment and blend those sounds). Students also need the ability to learn the letters that represent the sounds and recall them easily.

Over time, LSCWC has been misrepresented as an independent activity that students can complete on their own, with self-checking. SImply give a student a list of words and they can learn them with this strategy, but it just isn’t the case. Spelling needs to be explicitly taught, then supported with a range of activities.

How to use Look, Say, Cover Write, Check effectively

So let’s break down LOOK, SAY, COVER, WRITE, CHECK to see what the best-practice use of this exercise is!

  1. LOOK: Don’t just LOOK at the word. What do you SEE? Think orthographic, morphemic, structural features of the word. These need to be explicitly taught, and students may need help identifying them. Does the students know what the word means? Does it look like any other words they know?

2. SAY: This is NOT saying the word. It is SOUNDING OUT the spelling-sound correspondences in the word. You could use Elkonin boxes for phonemes. Once blended, does the word sound like a word the student knows? You can then listen for syllables. Again, this will need to be modelled and students may need help/corrections as they sound out.

(Why Elokin boxes for phonemes and then syllables? – think of the word ‘little’. Individual sounds of the word are ‘l/i/tt/le but the syllables are lit/tle – we don’t say the /t/ sound twice!) Students need training in phonemic awareness until they can do this on their own automatically.

3. COVER: Cover the word and visualise it. (This can be tricky for student with working – memory problems. You can just skip this step!)

4. WRITE: Write the word.

5. CHECK: Check the word; review the word with an adult for corrections. Having the opportunity to correct errors as they are made is super important. Remember ‘practise doesn’t make perfect; practise makes PERMANENT’.

Sadly, over time, teachers have been taught that Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check is an independent activity, and there’s no surprise that they have noticed that as an independent activity it DOESN’T WORK. It also doesn’t work as the ONLY spelling activity that is used to learn words.

What next?

As a supported activity completed within a spelling program that covers the four spelling knowledges (visual, phonological, morphemic, etymological), Look, Say, Cover Write Check can be an effective part of your teaching toolbox.

Teachie Tings Spelling and More

If you are looking for a range of spelling activities that can be completed with your spelling words, try Teachie Tings Spelling and More.

This collection of spelling activities aims to improve student success in spelling by using several spelling strategies:✿ VISUAL✿ PHONOLOGICAL✿ MORPHEMIC✿ ETYMOLOGICAL

four spelling knowledges